An atheist group has filed a complaint against a Tennessee school district after a pastor prayed with a high school football player who was seriously injured.
OneNewsNow.com reports that when a high school footbal player at the Tennessee school was severely injured, youth pastor Eric Dill of Bayside Baptist Church was asked by another student to pray for the injured player who reportedly received a hard blow to his neck and was unable to move his legs.
Dill recalls the tense moment: “A neck injury is the scariest part of football. It was almost dead silence … about the only thing I could hear on the field was like sniffling, and just players getting emotional.”
Upon hearing that Dill prayed with the student and that some teachers and coaches had bowed their heads in prayer as well, the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a complaint against the school district, alleging that “coaches cannot participate in prayer in school, and even that student-led prayer at football games is unconstitutional,” according to the FFRF’s complaint.
Dill, however, maintains that he could not turn down the call of God to pray:
“If I believe in a God who answers prayers, how bad [do] I have to hate the kid who’s injured or the player who asked or the players who are hurting not to pray?” Dill asked. “I’m going to be respectful and I’m going to be considerate. I’m not going to force my myself or my faith. God doesn’t force Himself on people, but if a student asks me, ‘Eric pray for this’ – especially in something like this – I’m going to pray.”
The school district has apparently investigated the complaint and, according to Natalie Potts of WRCB-TV, “School officials say they understand that they are not to endorse any particular religious practice – including student led prayer – and they do not believe that any boundaries were violated in this situation, but additional training will be provided to school employees.”